SAN RAMON, California (AP) — More than one million people have passed through US airport security checkpoints in each of the past two days in a sign that public health pleas to avoid holiday travel are being ignored, despite an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.

It marks the first time US airports have screened more than one million passengers since November 29. That came at the end of a Thanksgiving weekend that saw far more travel around the country than had been hoped as the weather turned colder and COVID-19 cases were already spiking again.

Now, hospitals in many areas are being overwhelmed amid the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the US since March, when most Americans were ordered to stay home and avoid interactions with other households.

The seven-day rolling average of newly reported infections in the US has risen from about 176,000 a day just before Thanksgiving to more than 215,000 a day. It’s too early to calculate how much of that increase is due to travel and gatherings over Thanksgiving, but experts believe they are a factor.

Although lockdowns are no longer in effect in many parts of the country, stay-at-home orders have returned in some areas in an effort to contain the virus. Nearly 99 percent of California’s population of roughly 40 million people, for instance, has been told to remain at home except for essential work, shopping, and exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory declaring “postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”

Nevertheless, about 1.07 million people passed through the security checkpoints at US airports on Friday and again on Saturday, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Saturday’s volume was down 57 percent from the same time last year, the smallest year-over-year decline in daily traffic at US airports since November 22 as people began their Thanksgiving getaways.

Source: The Jamaica Observer